Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, by Loic Dauvillier (First Second, 2014), ISBN: 978-1-59643-873-6, $16.99
Pub Date: April 1, 2014
Hidden is a graphic novel, tells the story of the Holocaust as it stormed through Vichy France, from a child’s eyes.
Elsa is a little girl who discovers her grandmother deep in thought one night. She curls up on her lap, and her grandmother tells her why she’s been feeling sad. Doumia, Elsa’s grandmother, has had a nightmare, and proceeds to tell Elsa about her life as a little girl.
Doumia was a happy child, living in France, going to school, and had friends and a loving family. One day, her father tells Doumia that they are to become “a sheriff’s family”, as her mother sews yellow stars on their clothing. She later learns, when her friends and her own teacher ignore her, that the yellow star is not a sheriff’s star, but the mark of being a Jew. Nazi soldiers harass people in the streets; Doumia’s father loses his job, and, fearing for her safety, Doumia leaves school to be homeschooled by her parents.
Doumia’s parents scramble to hide her when the Nazis come for them. She is discovered by a neighbor, who, with a network of the French Resistance, change her name and send her, along with her neighbor, to a farm to wait out the danger. When the War ends, we wait, as Doumia does, to learn her parent’s fate.
This is a powerful, emotional, story of the Holocaust because it is told through a survivor’s eyes, but the eyes of a child. We hear this story, as Elsa does, in the safe, warm embrace of a grandparent, with Marc Lizano’s and Greg Salsedo’s gentle cartoon art, with subdued colors, easing younger readers into history. Where is difficult in parts, there are bright spots to keep younger readers interested and happy – Doumia living safely in the French countryside with women who care for her; the farm animals she helps care for, reunions with lost family members. It’s a safe place to talk about a horrific event.
An afterword by Hellen Kaufmann, the President of AJPN – an organization dedicated to telling the stories of rescue and solidarity during World War II – gives us an overview of Vichy France during World War II.
This is a fantastic pick for younger readers, particularly with the difficult task of finding interesting, captivating, non-fiction to fit with the Common Core Learning Standards. The book is a valuable teaching tool for parents and educators alike.